February 3, 2017
On Wednesday night, an Afghan-American software engineer and self-described “global geek girl” videotaped her friend Kiara Robles as a local TV reporter interviewed Robles about the raucous protests at University of California Berkeley that canceled a speech by controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Robles wore the trademark red hat of the Trump presidential campaign, only with the message, “Make BitCoin Great Again,” her straight, long blond hair sweeping out from under the cap.
Suddenly, a masked attacker in a leather jacket lunged at Robles and doused her face in stinging pepper spray. “My friend was giving an interview when some coward peppersprayed her,” Robles’s friend wrote on Twitter, posting the video. She was maced, too. (She said the attacker was a woman.)
Alas, her friend’s attacker wasn’t just “some coward.” The attacker was emblematic of a new toxic movement that is acting like an insurgency in America: the new alt-left.
For all of the important, albeit hyperbolic, conversations about “white supremacists” and the “alt-right,” we would be well served to confront the very real reality of a dangerous dynamic of liberals in an “honor brigade” who lash out aggressively at others with the false claim they are defending the “honor” of American values of tolerance, diversity and pluralism. For the self-confessed crime of my vote for Donald Trump, a liberal Georgetown University professor told me, “I’ve written you off as a human being,” and hurled insult after insult at me, including “F–k off. Go to hell,” and “Gloves off.”
For many, the protests at UC Berekely came out of the blue. The Socialist Alternative Bay Area, an organization of left-wing activists in the San Francisco Bay area, and the Berkeley Socialist Students had posted an innocuous Facebook “event,” inviting protesters to the campus Student Union to “unite against oppression” and “racists, Islamophobes and misogynists” who are “emboldened” by the “election of Donald Trump.”
“We have to shut them down,” the invitation read, ominously.
A Facebook user then shared the details with the hashtag #ShutDownMilo.
But, underscoring how social media is used not only by terrorists but by “social justice warriors” as well, the violent protests were long ago predicted.
Conspiring to engage in political violence aimed at depriving others of their civil rights, such as freedom of speech and assembly, is a federal crime. I hope that the administration will investigate it as thoroughly as the Obama Administration would have investigated a similar violent campaign conducted by the right — had such a campaign ever existed.